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Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: AMS Notices: Open Source Mathematical Software

From: Gabriel Dos Reis
Subject: Re: [Axiom-developer] Re: AMS Notices: Open Source Mathematical Software
Date: Tue, 27 Nov 2007 09:44:58 -0600 (CST)

On Tue, 27 Nov 2007, Michel Lavaud wrote:


| Personnally, I think the only valid, scientific way is the first one : any
| work proposed for publication that uses commercial software ought to be
| rejected by the referee, unless it says explicitly and honestly that it used
| commercial, non-provable software, so that another researcher can then improve
| on the article later, and publish another article using a completely Open
| Source software and provide a complete, rigorous, verifiable proof..

So, are you arguing for or a against

 # If the plane I'm flying is built based on simulations with commercial
 # mathematical software tools, I surely want them to be the best.



| This trend is especially common among experimental scientists, for two reasons
| : first, they have lot of money so they can buy very expensive software, and
| second, there is an inherent uncertainty in experimental results, so they
| translate their tolerance to errors in experimental results toward tolerance
| to possible errors in commercial software, without realizing (or wanting to
| realize) that errors in experiment and software are of a complete different
| nature : error in an experimental measure is unavoidable and inherent to
| experimental work, while error in a software is completely avoidable since it
| is pure mathematics, expressed in a computer language instead of plain
| English.

That may be the case.  In the interest of rigor and openness as you
promote, do you have data for that scenario we could all check so that
it does not appear to be a gratuitous anecdote?

| The fact that the scientific community itself is responsible for the globally
| decreasing rigor in scientific articles, related to the use of commercial
| software, is well illustrated by remarks of somebody on this list (was it
| William Stein ?) who explained that NSF do not fund software that could
| compete with commercial software.

I don't believe that remark came from William Stein -- whose SAGE project,
described as alternative to commercial mathematical software, has been
funded by NSF -- but maybe I'm not reading the same thread as you.

-- Gaby

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